Saturday, September 27, 2014

Week Full of Adventure

This week I had a series of fun, but adventuresome things.

Monday I went in for my weekly check up with Dr. N.  The rash was getting better, but not completely gone.  When he asked if I wanted to get on a steroid pack and get rid of the rash, I jumped at the chance.  He did make the referral to the radiologist, but said that we would wait another two weeks to be sure the rash is really gone before we start radiation.

Tuesday morning the first real adventure began when I was flying from Austin to Dallas (headed to Kansas City).  It was an early flight and all of us were sleeping.  When we landed the flight attendant was quick to point out that we had landed back in Austin.  We all confirmed that by looking out the windows.

She let us know that there was a problem on the flight, including a smell in the back of the aircraft, and as a precautionary measure they had turned around half-way to Dallas and come back.  Next we heard from the captain that the fire trucks would be looking the plane over and using thermal cameras.  When they found a 'hot spot' on the left wing, the decision was made for us to evacuate the plane, via the emergency slides.  It was a quick trip down the slide, and a fireman was down there to 'catch' each of us.  We even made the news.

It was not scary, but it was an inconvenience.  After standing on the tarmac for 20 minutes the airport brought some buses out and we were taken back to the terminal.  Another 20 minutes or so and we went upstairs to wait in a line to be let back on 10 at a time to get our stuff that had now been towed back to the terminal.  Oh but the fire department was still doing some investigating so we waited some more.  Everyone was in pretty good spirits as we waited, joking along about it all.

We were told to re-book our flights and since I was at the end of the waiting-to-get-your-stuff line I was suddenly in the front of the line to get over to gate 7 and re-book.  I got one of the few remaining seats on the 10:30 flight and still make it to KC without too much delay.

Another team member had been delayed too (though not for as exciting of a reason) and so I didn't have to ride over to our event alone when I got to KC.  We had a great team building time, and several of us, including me, got to climb to the top of this 50' tower.
The climbing up wasn't too difficult, but getting on to the top platform proved to be a little more of a challenge.  I did eventually figure it out, but only after reminding myself that I'm beating cancer, surely I could finish getting up on a silly platform.

Getting down from the platform required some serious self talk too.  You have a safety rope on, but you must go against everything your momma taught ya and push yourself off the platform so the team below can use the belay and let you down slowly.

The three days in KC were great and the trip home was uneventful, which was just fine.  One trip down the slide in a lifetime is plenty.

Praise God, the rash is gone and I'm on the next to the last day of the steroids (one of those tapering packs) and that there was no serious emergency with the plane and that the pilot was cautious enough to keep us all safe.

Next week Wednesday, I have my radiation consultation so I probably won't be back in touch until that gets underway the following week.  Hopefully there is nothing too exciting to report between now and then.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Roving Rash

Sunday morning I woke up with a rash.  Not just an ordinary rash, but a very itchy rash.  The good news is that it did not stay in one place very long.  The bad news is that it was moving from one body part to another.  J did his best to stop me from scratching my arms all during church.  The trend seemed to be that at the top of the hour it would pop up and last about twenty minutes of intense itchiness.

Monday morning the rash was definitely back and still roving.  At one point it was in my armpit and when I scratched I felt like a monkey. At least I didn't smell like one too.

I sent an email to Nurse Karen and she responded right away that this was likely a reaction to the chemo I had on September 3rd and to take a combination of Claratin, Benadryl and Pepcid.  I didn't have all of those at the office, but when I got home that did provide some good relief and I was able to have a great night of sleep.

Tuesday it was back, but again under control with the medicine combo, and I was prepared with the right combo at the office.

Wednesday I had my follow up appointment and Patty confirmed that this was likely a reaction to the tacotere (chemo). I asked how long this might last; anywhere from a week to six weeks.  Eeek.

I also learned that my red blood cells are still down, as are my platelets.  They are confident that they will rebound in another week.  I'm thankful that my energy level is back to what feels pretty close to normal.

Today, I decided to test things and see what would happen if I didn't take the medicines.  I had a few moments that looked like Itchy and Scratchy, if that show were really about itching and scratching, but it wasn't too bad.   I'm planning to take the combo before bedtime tonight because who doesn't love a good night of sleep.

Up next:

  • Appt Monday with Dr. N to be referred for radiation

Prayer Requests:

  • Thanksgiving for clear-minded-ness and productive days
  • Continued blood cell development 
  • Rash to subside for real, without medicine
Thank you for your continued faithful prayers.  I am ever so thankful for you and for the amazing God who continues to answer your specific prayers.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quick Update

Just wanted to give you a quick update on how I'm doing.

I checked in with the doctor yesterday and my red blood cells were definitely on the low side, which like last time, explains while I feel tired all the time. There is nothing really to be done for it, except maybe eat more beef, which I'm happy to oblige.

My brain has been clearing up too, though I haven't picked up on a few cues where a good teasing was intended; instead taking them too literally.  I did work in a good comeback in the end, but I'd already shown my hand at that point.  Luckily, it was a good friend and there was plenty of grace.

One of the fun 'benefits' of the chemo was that it would push me into an early menopause, I'm sure that's news the men blog readers are interested in; sorry, but it is one of the facts.  Since the tumor was estrogen receptor positive if I get helped along that path then it further reduces the risk of recurrence and that is absolutely a good thing and why I bothered to mention it.

I will spare you the details, but I think the most common symptom that the world is familiar with are hot flashes.  We'll I have had my share lately, thank you very much, and I've also been unable to sleep well because of it.

Last Tuesday night it finally dawned on me.  It is as if I've been thrown into the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, or Rack, Shack, and Benny if you are Veggie Tales fan; watch it here.

The good news is that while RS&B were in the fiery furnace they were not in there alone.  The account in Daniel clearly shows a fourth person in the furnace with them, commentators believe to be pre-incarnate Jesus.  The fire had not harmed their bodies, Not a hair on their head was singed, please insert your version of the lack of hair joke here. Their clothes were not scorched, and they did not smell like fire.

In the end King Nebucanezer  praised God too, that God could save the young men in a furnace that was seven times hotter than usual because they would not break the First Commandment, you shall have no other gods besides me.  We should fear, trust and love the Lord above all things.  That last part was J's memory verse this past week, so it's quite fresh on my mind.

The plus side of having no hair is that the sweat on my brow catches the breeze of the fan easily to cool things off.

I'm thankful that I'm not alone through this either, and that we have a well air conditioned house.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Checking In

Just thought I'd post a quick note to say I'm doing Ok and your prayers are again being answered.

I've definitely found that movement after this round has been beneficial.  I do still fell fuzzy headed today, but am feeling better as the day progresses.

Clayton reminded me after my last post that the reason I can feel good despite having cancer is JESUS.  He is really the reason for the hope that I have.

Thank you for the prayers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

4 of 4

Despite all the blog silence, I've been doing well.  I did mean to post an update in between, but just got busy with back to school and didn't get around to another post after Nurse Karen said, "No need to come back in before the next round.  If you are feeling good, just roll with it."  So I did.  

I grew enough corpuscles to go forward today with the LAST chemo treatment.  

Can I get a woo hoo!  Oh yeah!  Done and done!  

YOUR prayers have been so well received and answered by our great God.  I am truly grateful and humbled.  He is so good.  I can't believe that you can feel this loved, supported, fun-filled and generally good while having something as ICKY as cancer.  You are the best prayer support team.  Thank YOU!!!

By the way, I'm two-thirds of the way through the process of being someone who HAS cancer to someone who HAD cancer.  

Next up, tomorrow I am scheduled for my shots and went ahead and signed up for fluids too, since I've needed them every time anyway.  The dr's office is working on a short schedule this week trying to work us all in with the holiday on Monday, why I didn't have my final treatment then, and it might be more challenging to work me in without the appointment.  Today it was a full house in the infusion room.  

Bobbie met me at the dr's office today to keep me company and we had a lovely visit.  There were a couple of times where we thought I was finished, but I miscounted drugs going in the first time and then the second time they had an extra bag of IV fluids to add in. We were out of there and headed to eat by 1:15. We were starving!  Thankfully she packed a snack for us of cheese and square crackers. 

When you are finished with your last treatment, they bring a bell over to your chair (Clayton spotted that when we were in for Round 2) and you get to ring it three good loud rings and the rest of the room applauds for you.  That was fun.  

One of the family members that was there with her patient stopped by as we were checking out and said, "I hope I never see you again, and smiled." I thought that was nice.   

I received a Certificate of Completion.  I now consider myself a chemo grad-u-ate.  The drawn out 'graduate' word was tied to a joke my parents used to tell, and only the punchline remains.   

Plus I got the t-shirt.

Thought I would share some more funny cartoons from Steph.  I may or may not have used some of these at home and at work.

This one may be for a younger crowd, but it is still funny and Larry thought perhaps should be shared with those in Hollywood or with any amount of celebrity status.
for the record this is NOT one I've used at home or work.  

Prayer Requests: 
  • That God will be glorified
  • That the nausea will not be as serious this round
  • That blood counts will be in the right zone
  • That my bones won't ache too much after the Neulasta shot
Next Steps: 
  • Visits each week for the next three weeks with lab checks 
  • September 21st appointment will be to discharge me from the oncology section and send me off to be radiated.
  • Radiation will start sometime after all the chemo is out of my system; about three weeks
  • Radiation will likely be 30 treatments
    • Schedule: Monday - Friday 
    • Appointments are relatively short ~15-20 min each
  • Grow hair